The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has announced a rise in the unemployment rate and an increase in working hours.

According to the ABS, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 3.7 per cent last month from February, a 0.1 per cent increase.

Despite the alarming figures, ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis has stated that these figures still remain above pre-Covid levels.

“With employment dropping by around 4,000 people and the number of unemployed increasing by 18,000 people, the unemployment rate rose to 3.7 per cent,” Mr Jarvis said.

“Even with these falls, both indicators were still well above pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels and close to their historical highs in 2022.”

The below graph shows the rate of unemployment in April compared yearly from 2013 to 2022, indicating unemployment is still not as high as in previous years.

The ABS also estimated 4,300 jobs were lost last month, compared to economist’s expectations of a 25,000 job increase for the month.

It was further determined that in April 2023 whilst full-time employment decreased by 27,100 to 9,726,500 employees, part-time employment experienced an increase of 22,800, resulting in a total of 4,155,600 part time employees.

Alongside a loss of jobs and rise of unemployment, in the same period, overall hours worked increased by 49.6 million hours, or 2.6 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms.

Mr Jarvis said this could be accredited to less people taking time off during the Easter period this year.

“Fewer people than usual worked reduced hours over the Easter period,” Mr Jarvis said.

The last time Easter and the survey period aligned like this was in 2015, when around 60 per cent of employed people worked fewer hours than usual. This Easter it was only around 55 per cent of employed people.

“This may reflect more people taking their leave earlier or later than usual.”

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Capital Economics employee Adhijit Surya said that the labour market conditions should continue to slacken.

“Falling job vacancies point to the unemployment rate continuing to climb higher in the coming months,” he said.

“Against this backdrop, we’re sticking to our forecast that the unemployment rate will reach 4.4 per cent by year-end, above the 4 per cent the RBA is currently expecting.”

The ABS defines seasonal adjustment as the removal of seasonal patterns that can make it difficult to see the effects of other influences on data.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Credits: Imogen Grant & Ellie Isemonger

Additional reporting: Lili Gallagher